For 28 years, Lori Brady has witnessed Alabama’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP) grow to assist 100 blind vendors/small business owners with total gross sales of more than $25 million.
As Brady settles into her new role as BEP director, she says she sees potential for much more.
“What sets BEP apart from other programs,” she said, “is that we train and license our vendors to become independent small business owners and give them the opportunity to be their own boss. That’s part of the reason why I think BEP is the best program ADRS offers.”
Alabama’s BEP representatives canvas the state scouting locations for vendors and provide equipment, maintenance, and assistance for vendors. Brady said that vendors currently operate 1,000 vending machines along 64 vending routes and operate five federal dining contracts statewide.
“BEP really stands out nationally, and we believe in supporting that program,” said Assistant Commissioner VR Blind/Deaf Curtis Glisson. “Our vendors average an income north of $35,000, and many earn much more than that. For a department that emphasizes customer service, the BEP program exemplifies that in every respect.”
As director, Brady will oversee the BEP budget, the training of new recruits, and the development of BEP’s rules and regulations for vendors. For Brady, the new position also comes a new vision for a program so dear to her heart.
“We have a lot of our businesses in state and federal locations, and we need to look at going more into the private sector,” said Brady. “Moving forward, we also need to market BEP a bit better than we have in the past and secure more locations for our vendors. Still, the recipe for success is here and is built upon our strong partnership with Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind and our strong relationship with the Elected Committee of Blind Vendors.”